Project #75250 - Buddhism reading response

read the following post and write a respond the on following question, around 300 words.

 Discuss why icons are important in the development of Buddhism in early Japan.

These are example answers (you can take ideas from it but do not copy):

1. Icons were central to the development of Buddhism in early Japan, and, ultimately, to the foundation of a Japanese nation.  Icons, as opposed to texts, served as a means of Buddhist transmission throughout Japan.  With the triumph of the Soga in the civil war, Japan saw a centralization of culture and an explosion of icons, which popped up everywhere as an expression of Yamato power.  The Japanese began to focus on “building gods” in the form of icons, and they accomplished this feat by organizing Ko, new social groupings who came together after taking a vow to do meritorious acts, pooled resources, built icons, and, ultimately, began to rival the Sangha.  With the increasing desire to “build gods” and icons, Japan also saw an explosion of Ko across the land.  With this new emphasis on icons and Ko, we can start to see the direction that early Japanese Buddhism would be heading.  Clearly, there is an emphasis on power and competition for the acquisition of power.  This competition and hunger for power provided the framework for what early Japanese Nara Buddhism would become.  

  

  Icons were largely about power, were localizable, were portable, and made great gifts.  These characteristics essentially made the transmission of Buddhism in Japan possible.  The King of Yamato began sending icons to other rulers as gifts, and, additionally, provided workers to build lavish temples and monks to worship the icons.  The King allotted the various rulers ranks within the imperial bureaucracy.  The King used cultural capital as a means of spreading everything- his own power, Buddhism, icons- across Japan over the course of 100 years.  He eventually began to call himself the Emperor of Japan, and, it is at this point that we see the birth of a cohesive Japanese nation, founded and made entirely possible by the arrival of the Buddhist tradition and by the power of the icons that served to spread it.

 

  Notably, we see the importance of the icons as tools of power and as means of cultural capital and social control.  It is interesting to see the process through which Buddhism developed and spread across Japan.  We see Japan radically transform from a backwards, technologically- incompetent, illiterate, and very divided group of villages into a cohesive nation structured on bureaucratic ideals within a Buddhist framework in a relatively brief period of time.  This impressive transformation was due largely to the power of the icons and the cultural capital and social influence that they exerted.  Buddhism and Buddhist icons served as unifying and structuring forces for Japan in many ways; however, they also brought about a new form of Buddhism, and a form that was characterized by hunger for power, bureaucratic and social control, and corruption, rather than by a true focus on the teachings of the Buddha.

 

2.The materiality of icons was extremely important for the development of Japanese Buddhism traditions. The creation of icons required scarce resources and high levels of technology such as metalworking. Along with fitting into local religious terrains, icons were seen as animate and empowering. Most importantly, icons were portable, reproducible and made great gifts. The portability and ability to make many icons allowed the knowledge of Buddhism to quickly expand throughout Japan. The way Buddhist tradition was transferred in Japan was not through texts but through icons.

In a sense icons were all about power. The use of icons as gifts began with the Paekche who sent an icon to the King of Yamato asking for troops. The Japanese had never seen an artistic metal icon god before and Yamato took in the icon to worship. Yamato continued the icon gift tradition and sent icons out to local rulers, offering to send monks and workers to build magnificent temples. In return, Yamato rewarded the rulers with a new rank in his bureaucracy and appointed them ruler of the domain which they already controlled. Without any battles, the King of Yamato uses cultural capital by uniting everyone in southern Japan under the domain ruled by the Emperor of Japan. Icons formed the basis of the invention of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese state.

The two forms of Buddhism, Imperial Buddhism and Gyoki Buddhism, were rooted in the production of icons and material realities.  In Imperial Buddhism, the emperor is trying to maintain a monopoly over the sangha and Buddha is understood entirely from icons. The counter movement by monk Gyoki, the King of Ko, asserts the notion of original social welfare- that building bridges, hospices and canals creates just as much merit as building icons. Gyoko taught people to ordain themselves into the sangha and that the only thing you could rely on in this final age of corruption was Buddha himself.

Prior before learning about icons, I thought that it was very impressive that Buddhism spread through different regions and cultures (India and China) with a strong sense of authority from scriptures. But it’s even more fascinating that icons played such a crucial role in spreading of Buddhism and the uniting of Japan. Having seen the Tian Tan Buddha and the Buddha in the Todai-ji temples in Japan, I definitely understand the magnificence of the icons. However, I never understood how religions/cultures always thought that “bigger is better” (ie the great wall or the pyramids) especially when resources are so sparse in Japan. Building bigger icons and using all available resources are what brought epidemics and famines to Japan. 

3. Icons in early Japanese Buddhism represented power and played a significant role in laying the groundworks for Japanese tradition. Unlike Japan’s other East Asian counterparts with an emphasis in scriptures or specific practices, Japan was centralized and unified through the establishment and utilization of icons. Even after the ideological battle between the Soga and Mononbe, Buddhism was only able to be solidified as an imperial religion only through icons as localizable and portable gifts. In the historical anecdote about the King of Yamato, icons were used as gifts to build allegiance for his imperial bureaucracy. At the time, Japan was still a disorganized array of divided villages; the King used icons as well as new temples and monasteries as a way to lure village leaders across Japan to come under his rule. Additionally, the Japanese formed Ko, a new mode of social organization that take vows to perform acts of merit, usually building icons. With the use of icons as strategic apparatuses to achieve political and social control, a unified empire of Japan would form. 

Japan addressed early Buddhist transmission issues through icons in a calculative manner in which they were used as symbols of power to unify the nation. I found it very impressive and almost unrealistic that the Japanese people were able to exploit icons in the way they did, unifying an entire empire without any bloodshed, as made evident in the King of Yamato’s story. With the newly formed imperial bureaucracy combined with early Iconic Buddhist tradition and the Ko, the scene would be set for the rapid development of Buddhism in Japan.

Subject General
Due By (Pacific Time) 06/29/2015 07:45 pm
Report DMCA
TutorRating
pallavi

Chat Now!

out of 1971 reviews
More..
amosmm

Chat Now!

out of 766 reviews
More..
PhyzKyd

Chat Now!

out of 1164 reviews
More..
rajdeep77

Chat Now!

out of 721 reviews
More..
sctys

Chat Now!

out of 1600 reviews
More..
sharadgreen

Chat Now!

out of 770 reviews
More..
topnotcher

Chat Now!

out of 766 reviews
More..
XXXIAO

Chat Now!

out of 680 reviews
More..
All Rights Reserved. Copyright by AceMyHW.com - Copyright Policy